Ferrari, Enzo

(1898–1988)
   The founder of the world-famous sports car and motor racing firm, Enzo Ferrara was born in Modena (Emilia-Romagna). After only limited schooling and service in the army during World War I, Ferrari began racing in the 1920s and enjoyed a successful career at the national level. In 1929, he opened La Scuderia Ferrari (Team Ferrari), with the sponsorship of the local textile industry. Over the next 20 years, some of the greatest drivers of the age, including Tazio Nuvolari, drove for the cavallino rampante (the prancing horse that is the symbol of all Ferrari cars). In 1947, Ferrari constructed his first Grand Prix car (previously, he had used Alfa Romeos); in 1951, a Ferrari won the British Grand Prix—the first of more than 500 victories that make Ferrari the most successful of all racing teams. In 1952 and 1953, Ferrari driver Alberto Ascari became world champion—the first of eight such championships during Ferrari’s lifetime. In the 1950s, Ferrari began making sports cars for road use. The Ferrari Gran Turismo, inspired by the famous Pininfarina car design company, is one of the most cherished cars ever to take the road. Ferrari cars dominated at Le Mans and at other distance races throughout the 1960s. The firm needed extra capital to maintain its competitiveness, however. In 1969, Ferrari sold 50 percent of the firm to FIAT, which became majority stakeholder after his death. In the mid1970s, led by the Austrian driver Niki Lauda, Ferrari won the world championship three times in succession, but then a long drought set in as British teams (McClaren, Williams) using French and Japanese engines (Renault, Honda) came to dominate world motor racing. Ferrari returned to a dominant position only a decade after its founder’s death in August 1988.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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